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Tell me about yourself: Tough interview questions and how to answer them


March 22, 2006

Tough questions during job interviews are to be expected. Learning how to answer them takes planning and preparation. Richard Bayer, COO of the Five O’Clock Club, a career coaching and outplacement company, lists the toughest interview questions. Here’s how he suggests you respond:  
 
Tell me about yourself
Be succinct. Don’t delve into every job on your résumé and waste the interviewer’s time with details that don’t apply to the position at hand. Have a two-minute summary or “pitch” ready that includes highlights of your career history and key accomplishments pegged to the job under discussion. Talk candidly about the qualifications, strengths and hands-on experience that make you the best candidate for the job. Don’t expect hiring managers to connect the dots on your résumé. If you have a conclusion you’d like them to reach, tell them what it is.
 
What is this gap in your résumé?
Be creative. Think about what you’ve done during this time period, and build a story around these activities. Here are a few examples:  I helped a friend develop a new business; I coordinated a lunch program at a local nursing home; I volunteered as a reading tutor at my old elementary school. One client had to deal with the sudden death of a parent and spent two years addressing the accounting and legal issues surrounding the estate. When we put that on his résumé, it added a positive note to his background.  You can’t ignore gaps in your career history. Find something honest to say and make it relevant to the job you are applying for.
 
Tell me about the worst boss you’ve ever had
Be wary. Don’t be sucked in by this question.  You can sabotage an interview by revealing too much about a previous situation. If you say that your boss never had time for you, they’ll wonder why you needed so much attention. If you say he or she was too demanding, they might think you can’t manage your time. If you say he or she yelled and screamed, they’ll wonder what you did to make your boss so angry.  A good comeback is: “I’ve really been lucky. I’ve learned something from every one of my bosses. There were some I disagreed with over strategic issues and others whose style was different from mine, but I can honestly say that each boss taught me a valuable lesson that has made me a better manager.”
What are your weaknesses?
Be strategic: Some people are comfortable saying: I don’t have any work-related weaknesses. My bosses have always been pleased with my perfor-mance. Some hiring managers feel you are more human — and honest — if you do reveal some weakness. But, never pick something that pertains directly to the job. If you name a weakness, show how you’ve dealt with it. Details: http://www.FiveOClockClub.com



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